Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system. It is progressive in nature and affects one’s movement; it builds gradually over a period of time, and begins with something as unnoticeable as a tremor in the hand. In its early stages, the speech may become slurred or soft, with the face showing little or no expressions. It simply worsens with the passage of time.
Although this disease can’t be cured, medications may improve your symptoms very noticeably. In occasional cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.
The signs and symptoms can vary from person to person, but they all begin from one side of the body.
Tremors are the most common symptom of Parkinson’s. Pill rolling tremor is when the patient rubs their thumb and forefinger back and forth continuously. Other people will notice tremors usually when their hands or fingers are relaxed.
Slowed down movements over the passage of time tend to reduce one’s physical functioning, making it difficult to perform the easiest of tasks. Other signs include the pace of steps becoming shorter, making it difficult to get out of chairs, or dragging one’s feet, making it not easy to walk.
Rigidity of muscles can occur in any part of the body, limiting one’s range of motion and thus causing pain. Patients also experience lesser ability to be able to perform unconscious movements like smiling, blinking, or even swinging one’s arms while walking. Lack of handmade gestures during talking is another sign. Speech problems include slurring, speaking softly and quickly or hesitancy before talking.
There aren’t many known causes for this disease. Specific genetic mutations have known to cause this disease but these occurrences are mostly uncommon except in those families where multiple members suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Environmental triggers like being exposed to toxins can increase the risk gradual development of the disease, but the chances of this happening are miniscule.
What you can do
If you fear that you or someone you know may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, make sure of the following pointers –
- Note down any symptoms you feel might stand out as those of the disease. Note them down even if they seem unrelated to it, because you might be suffering from an additional disease.
- If there are any major stressors or life changes in your life, write them down too because they might have triggered the disease in you.
- Be sure to note down all the current medications, supplements and even vitamins you are taking so that you can share them with your doctor
- If you are hesitant to go alone, ask a friend or a family member to accompany you. They might help you fill in the blanks if you get nervous or tend to forget something when sitting with the doctor.
Currently, there are no tests which can help diagnose Parkinson’s in a patient. Many times it happens that the disease cannot be diagnosed in one sitting by the doctor. In such cases, follow up appointments are ordered, along with appointments with neurologists who help evaluate the patient’s symptoms and condition over the passage of time.